The Tale of Old Silverback

🔥🔥 HOT OFF THE PRESS 🔥🔥

“King of the forest, old Silverback, fell down with a thump on the soft mulch-littered ground, and the whole forest held their breath. They realised something was wrong.”

A teaser for my children’s short story which I am SUPER excited to announce is now finally available in print as part of the Sutherland FAW anthology Webs of Life; a collection of short stories written by the many talented writers in the group.

It has taken several months of planning and organizing, and we can’t wait to officially launch the book at our Writers Unleashed festival on Saturday 17th August at Gymea Tradies in Sydney.

Also had my first taste of a writer’s reading yesterday. My workplace organised a BBQ and had me read the story. Was nerve racking and exciting at the same time. Happy to say the story was well received with lots of laughter and congratulations from everyone.

Enjoyed sharing that part of my life with my colleagues. To work at a place that encourages and supports employees in a life outside of work is heart-warming.

I’m feeling a bit more like a real writer today and it feels damn good.

If you would like a copy please DM me. Pre-orders before the festival at a discounted rate of $12 plus postage.

Deadly Destination

 

train into fog

For centuries it had been frozen in time and in structure. Hidden from civilisation beneath the cold ice; covered in layers of bone chilling snow. Its weapon harmless. Unable to kill. A frozen assassin.

Global warming slowly changed the killer.  Like a hibernating bear, the deadly bacteria stretched and yawned back to life. Slowly leaking out. Coming to the surface. Hungry. Deep in the Canadian mountains it started its roar.

~~~

The train left the station every carriage filled with hundreds of tourists dressed in hiking gear, expensive camera’s adorning their necks and carrying heavy backpacks. The buzz and excitement permeated every part of the train. Strangers connecting over maps and old travel stories.

It was Linda and Paul’s first hiking trip. They kept to themselves; cocooned in their bubble of young passion and excited about their future life together. Paul touched his shirt pocket for the hundredth time. The tiny box still there containing a dainty ring with the most expensive pink diamond he could afford on his meagre intern salary.

Linda looked pale. Paler than usual. Her long dark hair contrasting her porcelain skin. She had wanted to stay in bed that morning, but she couldn’t disappoint Paul.

The train slowed down, stopping at the last station before the climb up the steep mountain covered in an eery fog making it impossible to see to the top. Like it had disappeared. Hiding something.

‘Last stop. A ten minute break for anyone who wants to stretch or grab a snack at the station cafe,’ the voice came over the loudspeaker.

‘Let’s hop off. I need to pee’ Linda urged, feeling the wave of nausea that had plagued her for the last few days.

They jumped off holding hands and made their way to the far end of the platform. Paul noticed Linda shaking.

‘You don’t look well, Linda?’ concern written all over his young face. She just made it into the cubicle, head spinning when her insides rushed up her throat into the rust coloured toilet bowl.

‘Are you ok?’ she heard Paul’s voice outside.

When she didn’t answer he barged into the cubicle.

She looked up at him. The realisation hit. Late period!

Paul took off his neck tie, wet it under the tap and wiped her face covered in perspiration.

‘I think I might be pregnant Paul,’ Linda said quietly.

‘Oh My God! Yes!’ Paul hugged her as they sat huddled on the grimy bathroom tiles oblivious to the ear piercing sound of the train whistle.

~~~

‘A trip of a lifetime missed by 1 second, but two lives saved ‘ according to the evening news read by a grim faced reporter.

‘A tourist train met with a deadly destination today. SOS signals from the driver at 11am sent rescue teams to investigate. No survivors except a young couple who missed re-boarding at Trinytie. All carriages covered in unidentified pus. Cause of death unknown.’

Writing Update May 2018

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Winter weather has arrived in Sydney. Windy, wet and cold with the sun trying to bring its rays out during these last days of autumn. It has hit us with a force after months of beautiful hot weather.

The change of weather is welcome in its newness. Getting out boots and scarves is always interesting after the long warm summer. I wonder how long that feeling will last! But I am enjoying it for now.

Also have to admit weather like this makes writing a lot easier. No temptations to venture out. It is comfy clothes, steaming coffee and inspirational music in the background for me today. Time for another writing update.

An activity loaded month has just passed. My interest and passion seems to grow the more I write and connect with other writers. It’s contagious and like being on a never ending fun roller coaster ride. I am hungry to learn and almost obsessively scouring the web for content and information on writing; reading, learning, expanding my mind and improving my craft. I wish I had taken this up, so much earlier in my life, but I believe there is a right time for everything.

So what has happened since my last update?

1. My book.
⁃ I finished the 2nd edit of my novel. YAY!! Felt awesome, but also confusing. What next? Was at a loss at first, but put the novel aside for two weeks before next step. Good to have a break and regroup your thoughts. Next I will send it out to two eager beta readers waiting for me to get organised. I will also print it up and read it again myself taking notes this time rather that working online.

2. AWC course
⁃ Two months ago I signed up for an online course with Australian Writers Centre on “How to pitch to agents and publishers”. So in my break away from my novel I have listened to all 10 modules and started the homework/tasks. A fantastic course for anyone new to the industry. It is so daunting for a newbie, and this course explains it in easy steps what to do to get yourself organised. I’ve been getting my list together of agents, other opportunities and publishers. Putting all the info in a list (excel) helps get your mind organised. It’s like clearing out your wardrobe. Rather than having all the information you gather along the way just float around your mind and clutter up everything else, putting it in a list gets in out of your mind and readily on hand when you need to refer to it. Love it! Appeals to the planner in me.

3. Booktaster Non-Fiction book review
⁃ Being a reviewer of non-fiction books with Booktasters online I spent the last 4 weeks getting through “Spirituality 103; The Forgiveness Code” by Ivan Figueroa. It took a while to get into the book. You have to be in the mood for this type of book. Once I sat down and read it, I found it fascinating. Some of it more scientific than I cared for , but also some great truths in there; the section on how we can’t change our past mistakes without changing our future. I believe we learn from our mistakes and that shapes our future selves.

4. Sydney Writers Festival
⁃ Attending the Sydney Writers Festival was inspirational. Had fun learning “how a person can disappear” during Jennifer Down’s interesting talk. Got blown away by Tayari Jones; such an interesting author; fun real and entertaining. Can’t wait to read her book “An American Marriage”. After a full day out amongst authors and books, what do you do? Return home with a bag of books to read. I need to take a holiday on a remote island with no distractions to get through my pile. But not complaining. What writer/reader can’t identify with having more books than you can read?

5. Fellowship of Australian Writers
⁃ Attended another fun and educational meeting with our local branch. It is always inspirational to network with like-minded people and a nice bunch to boot. We have our formal meeting followed by a speaker or a writing exercise, then the all important afternoon tea where we exchange ideas on life and writing. Great outlet. The group has nominated me as the Vice President this year and Content Coordinator for their newsletter and media updates for the annual local writer’s festival, Writers Unleashed. A learning curve, but one I am enjoying. Sometimes it is hard to fit it all in on top of full time work, but I get so much enjoyment from it I find time. Even if it means saying no to social events and burning the odd midnight candle sometimes.

6. Positive Thoughts Project
⁃ Now into my 5th month of daily notes on anything positive I have noted in my day. The world is so full of negative news it can be so easy to focus on all the dreadful things that happen. But when we take live being mindful of positive events in our lives, it become a mindset. Like everyone else I have my struggles and I get sad and down, but I believe we shape our reality by our thoughts. Reach for your dreams and they will meet you halfway. Seeking the positives in life and being mindful of them is how I prefer to live each day. This project is such a great way to ensure we live being aware of what we have rather than focusing on what we have not.

A full month again. I may have turned 60, but life has not slowed down for this girl. With passion , curiosity and a love of life this I am marching on with my fingers crossed each day gets me closer to a book deal. If nothing else I am having a ball and learning along the way.

Happy reading and writing month to you all. Thanks for reading to the end of what ended up a rather long update.

April Writing Update

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Welcome to my first blog on Writing. I hope to amuse, inspire, motivate and provide you with tips on writing. I am by no means an expert, but I believe we can all learn from each other no matter what stage of our writing journey we are on.

I promised I would begin this weekend, but funny enough I am feeling very unmotivated today. A busy working week followed by a massive but a very enjoyable and social Saturday has now left me just wanting to relax in the sun. It’s a beautiful sunny autumn day here in Sydney​ but still feels like summer. I want to go to the beach and I have been snacking all morning. A sure sign that I have been distracting myself from what I need to do. Write this first blog.
Why does that happen? I would love your comment if you find that happens to you sometimes too.

So what to do. I find when procrastination sets in and you keep pushing out what you need to do, ​the ​ best remedy is to honour your feelings for a little while then make yourself get on with the job. That way you feel like you have compromised.

That’s exactly what I did. I sat on my veranda this morning and had a lovely breakfast in the sun. Not quite the beach but certainly satisfied most of my need for self-indulgence​.

But after lunch​n I gave myself no excuse; grabbed my laptop and started writing. Once I start I know it will come. It never fails. 

So a bit about my writing journey so far.

I have always been gifted with a wild imagination and a desire to visit far-away interesting places. I think the long dark winters in Denmark as a child and teenager encouraged this imagination. I never liked the cold winter and in my imagination,​ I could go anywhere.

I collected a number of pen-pals from all over the world and we wrote each other long essays about our lives in our strange lands. A young Malaysian girl stands out as the most memorable pen-pal. Her and my life were so different. I loved reading her letters. I dreamt of living somewhere abroad where the sun would shine most of the year. And today here I am in sunny Australia. Funny how the power of your mind seems​​m capable of creating your reality without actually consciously trying.

I loved writing essays for school and I absolutely loved telling my younger sister stories. My imagination sometimes got me into trouble by making my stories too scary for my much younger sister. Mum was not always impressed, but my sister loved it. So I continued.

As an adult I wrote journals, detailing my initial years in Australia. They were not regular, but more often prompted by my father-in-law, who for some reason felt I had a book in me about my life. Maybe one day.

As a parent your life gets hectic, and I found little time to write in the early years. But when they started school, and I had divorced and then a single mum with my girls, I again found the need to create; to write. I guess I wanted to find myself again after nearly 18 years of marriage, and writing helped with that. I started writing a children’s book about Wazza the Wombat. My girls loved it. But I never finished it as we moved from the country to the Sydney city and life got super busy. Writing again got shelved for a couple of years.

Then with all the dramas of raising teenagers and being a single woman,​ I found myself needing to express my feelings, and I started writing poetry. 

I continued to dream of writing a novel, and started a couple of times, but the task never got finished. I kept dreaming and talking about my dream. But talking doesn’t get you far. So last year I set myself a goal. 2017 was going to be the year I would immerse myself in all things writing and take my novel writing serious.

I started reading more books and developed my idea for the novel I was going to write. I am lucky both my girls are creative, and I always have them as realistic soundboards. 

I joined a local writers group and attended writing Meet-ups. I joined Facebook groups on writing and various podcasts. I fully embraced being a writer and slowly over the year I started to see myself as a writer.

I started this WordPress blog. Setting it up was quite a challenge, but I managed to put something reasonable together and have now gained a bit of a following. The feedback and comments from this community is invaluable. I realise you don’t have to have something published to be a writer. You just have to write. The more you write the more experience you get and the more confident you get in your writing.

By halfway thought the year I had participated and submitted two short story contests and was enjoying it immensely. My novel was going along nicely, but not at a pace that would get me finished by end of the year. My goal. 

NaNoWriMo is what got me over the line. I joined in late September and couldn’t wait to participate. It was the best decision I had made all year. The writing community and the numerous supportive group activities were amazing, and I wrote almost every day for the whole of November. It got my novel finished. From 15,000 words in October to 65,000 by the end of November. I was thrilled and nothing could wipe the smile off my face.  A life long dream had finally come to life, and I met some truly inspiring people on the way that I am still in touch with. You can see more here if you are not familiar with the ​organisation.  
https://nanowrimo.org

I am now going through my novel edit process and trying to maintain my blog. Not always easy with full time work, but I am enjoying it and want to keep honing my writing skills.
I use Scrivener for writing. It does take a bit of time getting used to it, but I love having all my writing as well as my research in the one place. For my novel ,​I also find it helpful to add photos of your characters into Scrivener. I find it useful to look at the photos before writing the characters scene. Too easy to have someone look into his brown eyes , when in an earlier chapter he had blue eyes. 

For editing,​ I started using ProWritingAid earlier this year. It certainly takes the sting out of editing and picks up so much more than I ever would. Not only grammar but style and even if you use certain words too much. A great tool. So much more to this software and I will give more details​ in later blogs.

My plan is to finish my edit by end of this month. My daughter, who works as a writer/concept designer, is reading it at the moment. Once I have her feedback and my final edit Ill submit to publishers. A scary but exciting thought. 

But to get there I have to keep editing. So must finish this blog and get back to my novel edit.

I hope you have enjoyed a little insight into me and my writing. 
Next blog is planned for​ a fortnight on my photography. 

Stay tuned and stay happy.

My Last Love

My second short story published first on Short Fiction Break in September 2017

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He was not my first love. But he ended up my biggest and my last love.

It was a short love affair, but the fall was intense. We both knew it would not be an easy road yet it was a road we both desired and had to travel. Almost like there was no other option.

I saw it in his eyes across the breakfast table in the hotel cafe busy with people enjoying a last weekend away before fall. We seemed to be the only people by ourselves.  I was wondering if he had a partner. But he remained on his own. Our eyes locked and we both smiled. I think that was the moment I fell. Something in his face, the way his smile seemed to not only make his lips move. His whole face and body smiled. I felt instantly warm, secure and immensely content. My whole body felt alive. Longing raised to the surface so overpowering I could only go with what my soul urged me to do. Both feeling the pressure of time and a need to let go once more and just dive in for the fall.  Dive into falling in love.

We had both given up on finding love again. Settled for life as it was. Content with friendships and family catch-ups. Life was good. But the longing was always there. The longing to connect and to love again. The longing to have another human being to share life’s little moments with. To rid you of the loneliness that would creep in at night like a silent thief robbing you of your contentment and leaving you with sadness wondering if that was all there was left.  But you kept going each day suppressing the loneliness and focussing on all the positives in your life.

We were both at that point in our lives. I saw the reflection of my life in his eyes when we smiled across the tables. The instant attraction was deep. I normally would never do what I did next, but it felt so natural. I got up and walked over to his table.

“Can I join you?” I uttered cheerfully. His grin said more than yes. That was the start and the end for both of us. No return.

We spent the rest of the weekend enjoying the sights together. We laughed and smiled a lot. And we talked. We talked for hours. It was like we both knew we had limited time together. We wanted every minute to count and to be the best we could.

We spoke about our lives and realised how close we had been to crossing paths on a number of occasions. Our travels throughout Vietnam in our twenties, staying at the same hostels only days apart. Our children attending the same universities and graduating the same year. We would have been in the crowds cheering for them. Both with partners then. Both unhappy staying in miserable marriages for the sake of our children. Both finally divorcing and starting our new lives in our late 50’s. Settling into single life only a few suburbs apart. Eventually, both settling for life as it was. Single and content, but always longing.

The weekend ended too soon, but we exchanged numbers. His hug enveloped my whole body and reached beneath my core into my soul. It penetrated the loneliness and brought feelings to the surface that overwhelmed and surprised me. I felt like crying. A need to shed the loneliness I had suppressed for an eternity. Even with partners, I had always felt lonely. With him, I felt complete. I felt joyful. I felt love.

“Let’s catch up again soon” he whispered in my ear. I nodded and saw my own reflection in his moist eyes when we said our goodbyes.

We spoke every day after that and started our love affair. We kept it a secret to avoid trouble and the inevitable backlash. Our families would not approve easily, but we were committed to making this work and would tackle any issues together.

Our time was filled with romantic dinners, drives to new places and movies. Always talking, always laughing, always exploring new activities together. We loved with such intensity it sometimes didn’t seem real. Like being the main characters in a romance novel. Yet it was extremely real. Our feelings raw and real. Intense and beautiful.

We loved with no limitations, we read each other like open books. We didn’t always agree, but we never quarreled. We accepted each other with no questions as to who was right or wrong. Our families and friends eventually accepted us being together. Except for my daughter. “It’s just wrong” she yelled and slammed the phone down when we last spoke. “She will come around in her own time” he reassured me in his kind loving way.

We had six months of pure bliss. Pure unadulterated bliss feeling like nothing could stop this love or change our lives. But something did.

I saw it in his eyes as soon as he walked in the door. I had prepared an easy meal for a movie night at my place. Outside was windy and rain had started to set in. A perfect night for snuggling on the couch. We hugged, but I felt his tenseness. Then his body shook. He held me tight, his tears quietly rolling down my neck. His body told me he was holding back the sobs. I held him till he relaxed. Then he looked into my eyes.  I saw the reflection of the end, I felt his intense pain. I took his hand and led him to my bed and we just laid there in each other’s arms. I knew he would tell me when he was ready.

I could feel he was relaxing as I caressed his face. I looked at him, my eyes full of questions, my heart full of fear, but I was ready to hear what he had to say. I needed to hear it. His voice was filled with sorrow and despair when he uttered the six words that changed everything “I have cancer. I am dying”

My world stopped then. I struggled to take in the words at first. I don’t think I wanted to take them in. I cried. Then I kissed him intensely. We tried to make love, but we both just cried. We gave up and just hugged. Dinner stayed in the oven and burned to a crisp. We stayed in bed all night, just hugging, kissing and talking.

A routine checkup had revealed the headaches were not mere headaches. A large brain tumour had been growing inside his skull while we had enjoyed our love affair. Silently sneaking into our lives with malicious intent to rob us of our last chance of happiness and love. At our age, the fall season of life, it does not come easily or often.

The days following was a rollercoaster. He pushed me away at first saying he didn’t want me on this journey. He wanted to spare me the sadness, he wanted me to leave and find a new love. I shouted at him for the first time in our time together. I screamed and used words I didn’t know I knew. The result of my sickening fear, sadness, and despair came out in my yelling. Through it all, we both ended up accepting our needs to be with each other no matter what. Till the end. I could see that he wanted me there deep down. My eyes and emotions showed him I wanted to be there too.

We accepted our limited time. Our lovemaking returned. It was as deep as before but tinged with a sadness that we couldn’t escape. As the visits to the hospital increased and he grew weaker we mostly just held each other quietly throughout the long nights. Or we cried till we both slept. In each other’s arms, savoring every moment we had left. I would wake often. More than him. I would watch his face and listen to his breathing. Capturing the image for my memory bank to keep forever.

I laid in his arms, in the hospital bed, on his last night. Just listening to his breathing and taking in his beautiful face. His family had left for the night, vowing to return in the morning. I wished my daughter would accept us like his family had.

He woke up briefly at 4 am. His eyes were clear and looked deeply into mine when he whispered “I love you, Sam. Thank you for loving me”

He never woke again. He took his last breath shortly after in my arms. I stayed in his arms for a while longer then I called my daughter. Still with my head on his chest, I looked up as she walked in. She came over, hugged me and whispered. “Dad, I am so so sorry”

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Filed Under: Fall Writing Contest 2017

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COMMENTS

1

2 Kavitha says
September 6, 2017 at 11:20 pm

Touching

REPLY

◦ Sal says
September 11, 2017 at 5:36 am

Thank you Kavitha

REPLY

3 #comment-##

4 .children

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6

7 Karen says
September 9, 2017 at 1:57 am

Poignant and beautiful.

REPLY

◦ Sal says
September 11, 2017 at 5:37 am

Thank you Karen!

REPLY

8 #comment-##

9 .children

10 #comment-##

11

12 Sally says
September 10, 2017 at 5:37 am

I can totally recognize this story – so beautiful and touching.

REPLY

◦ Sal says
September 11, 2017 at 5:37 am

Thank you Sally!

REPLY

13 #comment-##

14 .children

15 #comment-##

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Synopsis for Secrets in the Lake

A young freelance writer looking for love unwittingly opens a Pandora box of secrets beneath the depths of the Lake.

 

Mandy Reid, a successful young writer in LA, receives a call from an old flame, Sam Smith, regarding the death of a shared friend, Karl Sonenheim. The impending funeral brings Mandy back to Lake Haven, and to her mother’s old home, for the first time in many years. Friends reconnect, social dramas arise and as Mandy peels away the layers of her past in search of new love, dark secrets begin to reveal themselves, one by one, from the depths of the Lake.

When Mandy arrives in Lake Haven she encounters a series of intriguing men, including her old flame Sam, and she begins to yearn for love again. Is she really ready for love? Can she overcome the trust issues that plagued her since childhood?

You see, Mandy was born in Australia and lived her first 6 years with her parents and older stepbrother David who visited over the school holidays. These happy years all came to an end when her father suddenly died in a horrific car accident, and Mandy moved back to the US with her mother and lost contact with her stepbrother back in Australia. These events, paired with a string of bad relationships, now see Mandy struggle with and attempt to overcome her well-worn trust issues — so that maybe, someday, she might let someone in. But first, she must work out who she can really trust and who does not have her best interest at heart. Is Sam really as charming as he appears? The winery owner Ian Larson, what is with his obsession? Is Karl’s brother Marc Sonenheim the real deal?

Early on in her return to Lake Haven, Mandy connects with Karl’s widow, Emma Sonenheim. They once were very close as young teenagers but lost touch when Mandy moved away. Mandy is confronted with rumors about Emma and Sam, but these are heavily denied by Marc as just malicious town gossip. These rumors seem to have caused a rift between Marc and his old school friend Ian Larson, too.

As the circumstances of Karl’s death unfold, Mandy begins to question everything —  including her friendship with Emma. Why did Emma so desperately need a place to hide away after the funeral? Is there really something between Sam and her? Who is the anonymous caller and what is Karl’s secret?  Mandy discovers more than she could ever imagine about the lives and the people of Lake Haven, taking place oh-so-quietly behind closed doors.

Joyce Reid is Mandy’s mother and they have always had a strong bond. After all, it was just the two of them for most of Mandy’s upbringing. Joyce is a semi-retired yoga teacher and lives part-time in San Francisco and part-time in Lake Haven. She never remarried since Mandy’s father died but, like Mandy, she is slowly opening up to new love herself. They both end up back at the old house in Lake Haven for the funeral. Joyce understands Mandy’s dilemma and finally takes steps to help her daughter confront her issue after all these years and mend her broken heart. These reconnections have far-reaching consequences, leading to a new journey that neither Joyce nor Mandy ever expected.

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